“That’s actually a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with leading with your faith…If we do not live our lives and vote like we are nationalists—caring about our country, and putting our country first and wanting that to be the focus of our federal government—if we do not lead that way, then we will not be able to fix it.” — Marjorie Taylor Greene
So, the Georgia representative wants Christian nationalism. To understand the implications we should probably define our terms. Nationalism can be defined as the “identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.“
So, let’s break down what this means for the United States. Essentially, if you take it to its logical conclusion it would be mean being out of most alliances. It would mean an end to the United Nations and NATO. It would mean an end to foreign aid. It would mean only being involved with other nations exclusively when it benefits us somehow. We’ve done this before. It didn’t work out well the first time, but it ignores something huge.
I know everyone is shocked to hear this, but I’m guessing the notorious MTG and her compadres haven’t done any heavy reading of the New Testament. Those who know the text know there is an important transformation that occurs. Yahweh (the God of the Jews) was a nationalistic God for the Hebrew people. We enter the New Testament under the same understanding. Jesus is the King of the Jews.
Yet, something funny happens along the way. When Jesus speaks to the woman at the well in the book of John he reaches a realization. He is here for everyone and not just the Jews. The way the story is written, it makes it look like the woman teaches him this. Yet, we know that isn’t the case. What we know is that this is another outward sign that Christianity is going to be different. This is where the Evangelicals get their whole mission from. It’s the whole ballgame.
So, if you bother to let those brain cells fire you have to come to the realization that there is nothing Christian about nationalism. This is particularly true for those folks that call themselves Evangelicals (as MTG does). You cannot pledge to evangelize the world and wrap yourself in a nationalist flag.
Moreover, nationalism can’t be Christian. Nationalism calls for denying outsiders. These are the folks that are clamoring for a wall. These are the folks that are for tighter limits on refugees. These are the folks that want to cut off aid to our allies. These are the folks that are okay with Russia invading Ukraine. It’s hard to imagine any of that being Christian.
It certainly doesn’t jive with the fact that Jesus was in fact a refugee. It certainly doesn’t jive with the fact that he helped the helpless, cured the sick, and prayed with sinners. It doesn’t jive with any of that. So, either they are committed to Christianity or they are committed to nationalism. They cannot be committed to both because the term “Christian Nationalist” is an oxymoron.
Of course, that leaves the rest of us a choice. We have to ask ourselves what we are most committed to. There are times when we all want America to be more selfish and to solve our own problems first. There are times when we think we can’t accommodate more people here. There are times where we wish those people that seem to mooch off of the government tit would pick themselves by their own bootstraps. We may think all of these things from time to time, but none of them make us better Christians. They hardly make us Christian at all.
So, we have to make a choice between the better angels of our nature and the demons that make us the worst. Christian nationalism sounds wonderful before you stop to think about what you are actually talking about. We can be Christian. We can be nationalists. We cannot be both.